Feature

Robert Rines

The inventor who hunted ‘Nessie’

Robert Rines1922–2009

Inventor Robert Rines held more than 80 patents, including one for hinged chopsticks. A Georgetown University–educated lawyer, he founded New Hampshire’s only law school. Rines also wrote songs for more than 10 Broadway and off-Broadway productions. But he is best remembered for his decades spent stalking the Loch Ness Monster.

Born in Boston, Rines earned his bachelor’s degree at MIT, said The New York Times. During and after World War II he developed electronic gear to improve radar and sonar images; his technology was used in Patriot missiles and helped locate “the wrecks of the Titanic and the Bismarck.” That background proved useful when, while honeymooning in Scotland in 1972, he claimed to see the loch’s fabled monster, which he said looked like an ancient plesiosaur. “It was maybe 45 feet in length with a neck 4 or 5 feet long,” he reported. In the ensuing years, he took many trips back to the area, “applying his sophisticated sonar techniques to find ‘Nessie.’” He captured many tantalizing underwater images, some of which appeared in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. His work was so persuasive that “scientists from Harvard and the Smithsonian expressed serious interest.” Rines even “hired a perfumer to concoct a scent to attract the creature and trained dolphins to carry cameras.”

Rines didn’t give up his quest until last year, though by then he had come to suspect that the creature may have died and he hoped to find a skeleton. “They can just call me crazy, and that’s okay by me,” he said. “At least I won’t go to jail for it, like Galileo.” He is survived by his third wife and three children.

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